Lewis University is only an hour’s drive away from Chicago’s Loyola University, but they will be facing each other 2000 miles away for NCAA volleyball supremacy. The Flyers won the game (25-20, 25-22, 16-25, 25-20) in a game filled with high flyers and big blocks.
The 2008 NCAA champions fought hard to keep up with Lewis’ physical play, but failed to control outside hitters Eric Fitterer and Greg Petty, who combined for 26 kills on Thursday night at the Maples’.
Lewis won the first set in large part because of 6’9” middle Bobby Walsh, who finished the game with 11 total blocks and hit an error-free game at 7-0-12.
Lewis played in their signature heavy blocking, heavy serving style to put Penn State on their heels. Geoff Powell, a senior out of Claremont, California, lead the Flyers with TK kills.
Aaron Russell fought through Lewis’ big block while the Romeoville, Illinois, based team made several unforced errors. They finished out the set with a 25-22 victory.
Lewis got off to a quick start in the third set and took over with a comfortable lead for nearly the whole way. Walsh continued his blocking rout and Eric Fitterer stepped up with three kills and two blocks. Russell and 6’4” senior Christ Nugent kept the Nittany Lions in the game, but their efforts weren’t enough to stop Lewis’ attacking.
Russell stuck it out in the 4th set, getting a huge pack on Eric Fitterer early on. Despite the close game, both teams played tentatively in the fourth, trading points for most of the set, with Lewis keeping a small lead until the end, where they won 5 of the last seven points.
The Flyers will now face Loyola University in the finals on Saturday. This re-match of the MIVA Final will be the first all-Illinois Men's volleyball Final in history. In fact, Saturday's match is the first Final without a team from California.